DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 1st Do you feel like it paid off to work on qualifying in today's practice session? "Hopefully it's a good thing. We haven't had our car in race trim yet. I...
No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 1st
Do you feel like it paid off to work on qualifying in today's practice session?
"Hopefully it's a good thing. We haven't had our car in race trim yet. I feel like we have a good baseline setup for here, obviously so we decided today that we were just going to focus on qualifying knowing that the corner pit stall is very, very critical here at Martinsville. I love it when a plan comes together."
How nerve-wracking was it to watch the final cars take their qualifying laps?
"I beat a hole through every cabinet and door in the front of the hauler. The 24 (Jeff Gordon) had a good shot at us and the 16 (Greg Biffle) had a great shot at us getting into turn three on their last lap. I wasn't wishing bad luck, but I was just like, 'Slip, slip, slip, slip.' It came true for us. I'm proud of this whole FedEx team. We've had to work extra hard today because we have worked just on qualifying. Kudos to them for working hard today and obviously tomorrow as well."
Are you pleased to have the number one pit stall for Sunday's race?
"It's the biggest thing and this is only the first or second race we've had all year that we've actually just worked on qualifying on Friday. I know the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) does that a lot and they typically out qualify us every single week. This is the first time for us doing that and obviously we executed really well today. Object one is accomplished and we just have to move on and change our mindset from here on out to what's going to make our car last for 500 laps."
Have there been any changes related to pit stops at your team?
"No, we've kept the same core group of guys for the last four years really of my career and really these are the same guys that I was probably complaining about earlier in my career. They've just hit their stride and I think we've had the chemistry for so long now. Even though we have strings of two or three bad weeks in a row where we had bad pit stops early in my career - we just figured that we had the right group of guys. It's just the chemistry and we needed to work on that part of it. It seemed like it got better. It definitely would from our standpoint. If we were struggling in that area, a change like that would be open. The 18 (Kyle Busch) car has got great pit stops every single week and they're one of the best on pit road. My guys have really stepped up big time in the last six months or so. Keeping them together paid off instead of the changing like we were thinking about doing years ago."
Do you plan to keep your confidence up throughout the race tomorrow after sitting on the pole?
"I forgot the last time I had a pole - I don't get very many of them and it seems like I would remember. We know here is a completely different beast than Atlanta or one of those tracks. We know that when we do qualify on the pole, our car is really strong because we typically don't qualify very well. We always seem to race well. It feels good to set out a plan and execute it. We set it out days ago and said that we won't even worry about what happens in race trim on Friday and just worry about getting that number one pit stall. That's optimistic being that you're going up against 42 of the best guys in the country, but when you're able to execute it like we are and like we've done, it gives you a lot of confidence."
Was getting the pole here today phase one of your plan for the final five races?
"Odds are that the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) isn't going to stay where he's at and the 29 (Kevin Harvick) isn't going to stay where he's at so that gap is going to close. All we can do is try to win. I feel like it's going to be much easier coming from first. We're going to be able to be much easier on our equipment throughout the day where I've started back where those guys are before and you really have to use up a lot of your race car and sometimes you don't have anything left by the time you get up front. It's going to be much easier on us starting there. We can kind of set the tone, hopefully lead a lap early and obviously try to keep everyone behind us because the more we lead, the less for those other guys."
Will you have more left in your car at the end by starting up front?
"I think it's just because I've saved so much and I did a lot at Richmond earlier this year. It's about conserving equipment and I do feel like I'm good at saving brakes and things like that. Parts have gotten so reliable on these cars nowadays - the brake packages and everything that guys are really hammering them and running as hard as they can each and every lap and they still have something left. I think it's a great start to the weekend and people might read into where Jimmie's (Johnson) starting and where Kevin's (Harvick) starting and where I'm starting, but we know as soon as the green flag drops those guys are going to be coming."
What is pit road like at Martinsville?
"There's about three good pit stalls. What's good for us is that hopefully the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) gets to pick a pit stall and he won't have ones that work out for timing lines because a lot of guys here cheat pit road quite a bit in the sense that they'll gas the cars up. They know where the timing lines are so they'll cheat where they are on pit road to work those timing lines. Hopefully those good timing line pit stalls where guys cheat that will be gone by the time those guys get to pick a stall. That will help us pretty much all day. Hopefully we stay up front then we should have nobody in front of us when we're going into pit road and obviously no one when we're leaving because the number one pit stall. It's going to be important for us. That was our biggest thing. I think the 11th pit stall out there was the second-best one. We wanted to be one of those two spots."
-source: toyota motorsports